The starving student narrative is a well-known colloquial idiom to describe student struggle in higher education. This rhetoric masks the reality of basic need insecurity for students and normalizes food insecurity and homelessness. This qualitative study explores the experiences of 213 students who experienced homelessness and food insecurity. Findings show that students experiencing basic need insecurity reported detrimental impacts on their educational success, and their physical, mental, and emotional health. Students described feelings of shame and ambivalence as they strived to meet their needs using their own resourcefulness. Study findings provide insight on how the starving student narrative influenced students’ perceptions of selves and help-seeking and how or if they accessed support services to mitigate basic need insecurity.
The Starving Student Narrative: How Normalizing Deprivation Reinforces Basic Need Insecurity in Higher Education
Families in Society: The Journal of Contemporary Social Services